tv Representative Jerome Waldie Opening Statement CSPAN August 5, 2014 8:24pm-8:38pm EDT
were already so far in jeopardy and eroded that it was no longer in the people's power to restore constitutional government by democratic means. so let us go forward. let us go forward into this debate with good will, with honor and decency, and with respect for the views of one another. whatever we now decide we must have the integrity and the decency, the will and the courage, to decide right. let us leave the constitution as unimpaired for our children as our predecessors left it for us. i now recognize the gentleman from michigan.
>> i recognize the gentleman from california, mr. waldie. >> mr. chairman, i join, i think, with every member of this committee and the recognition of perhaps the unworthiness of almost everyone confronting this enormous decision in their ability to make a decision that will be perfect in all respects. but i also want to make it as clear as i possibly can that i accept that responsibility and that i think it is part of the genius of this system that fallible human beings are called upon to exercise a judgment of this enormity. after having sat through these
hearings through the long hours and days and weeks that we each participated in, i think there's no one on the committee that's not aware of how enormously fragile the liberties of this country are, and how deeply subject to abuse they are by those who exercised great power indiscriminately and it is with that recognition that i find myself quite willing to accept this responsibility and, indeed, anxious to perform this responsibility in the manner that i deem it must be performed in that manner is to state my conclusion prior to my case by the impeachment of the president of the united states and by his removal from office. the last time this nation had an opportunity to be exposed to the condition of the presidency was
last summer during the urban committee hearings in the senate and at that time i think the general perception of the country was that the executive branch of this country and the president in particular was in deep, deep trouble. that there was something seriously wrong with the highest levels of our government, and that there was something seriously lacking in the moral make up of those who occupied those positions, and the question that plagued post of the people in the country was posed constantly, persistently and eloquentally when senator baker asked what does the president know and when did he know it. that question was still left unresolved although the to cut and anxieties and frustration
for not resolving that question persisted. the reason it was left unresolved because of the failure of the president of the united states to provide the answer to those basic questions, what does the president know and when did he know it? well, we now know what the president knew and when he knew it. because of events that have occurred subsequent to the urban committee hearings which the nation had great familiarity and those events were contrary to the president's desire he was forced by law and by the anger and wrath of the american people to relinquish the most vital evidence that had been withheld, the tapes of his conversations, the best evidence of what the president knew and when he knew it. but in the process of obtaining that evidence, there was almost
a constitutional crisis, you'll recall, because the president in his consistent and persistent efforts to obstruct the pursuit of truth in the answering of those questions fired archibald cox and the deputy attorney general of the united states because they persistented to follow the remedies available them under the constitution to find the answers to that question. the country rejected that attitude on the president's part and he conceded and he did relinquish tapes. but did he? he relinquished some of the tapes. we learned the vital information on the tapes, most vital, most instructive as to tans as to what did the president know and when did he know it, the june 20th conversation, two days after the june 17th break in of the democratic national committee, the conversation between the president and
haldeman, his top adviser was non-existent. that tape was in the president's custody and that 18 1/2 minutes was erased by human erasures and the inferences is inescapable. i introduces a relugs of impeachment by the president's dismissal of cox and his refusal to turn over the tapes to the proper authorities. thereafter, this committee convened to examine the question what does the president know and when did he know it? the next great avalanche of evidence involving that question was forthcoming when we pursuant to our subpoenas had a response, inadequate though it might be of
the edited transcripts of the president to indicate what he knew and when he knew it in terms of watergate. that avalanche of evidence as it was altered as later to be determined to have been by the elimination of vital portions those of tapes and transcripts still was notoriously helpful in answering that question that start it baker had posed, what did the president know and when did he know it. now we're at we're we're at today. has there been one shred of evidence exoonorrating ae ining exculpatory introduced by the president or anyone else since those senate hearings when senator baker asked that question? there has not been an iota of
evidence. the president had it within his power if such evidence exists to bring it forth and to exonorrate him from these charges and exonerate the anxious that he pushed this nation into. in response to my friend on the other side of this committee, who suggest the evidence does not show that the president has done anything, that simply is not so. there is a mountain of evidence showing that the president has acted to obstruct justice. hush money alone would be sufficient to demonstrate that thesis but before we analyze that what my friends failed to argue is that there's another duty on every individual in this country and particularly a president and that is to respond when there is placed before you information that duty compels
you to act upon. and this president had that opportunity countless times pursuant to the transcripts that we have obtained edited or not, where he was told of perjury on behalf of his subordinates where he did nothing of that. where he was told about efforts to conceal evidence where he did nothing about that. where he was told of obstruction of justice on behalf of his highest subordinates, where he did nothing about that. to this day there is not one single instance where this president has come before any authority with evidence or with his understanding of evidence to ask for clarification. the saddest part, the saddest part of all these transcripts was the president's own bewilderment in the march 22nd tape when he was talking about president eisenhower.
and he said this. this involved his failure to understand how this thing was falling apart so rapidly and what he could do about it. he said that about president eisenhower, quote, that's eisenhower. that's all he cared about. he only cared about christ. be sure he was clean. both in the fun thing and the other thing. i don't look at it that way. we're going to protect our people if we can. unquote. that is the saddest standard of conduct set forth in that entire page after page of transcripts that the president denigrates a standard of conduct that eisenhower set for his subordinates, we don't look at it that way and he doesn't look at it that way. he looks at it as necessary to cover up. when the president said in that
same conversation i want you all to stonewall it, let them plead the fifth amendment, cover up or anything else if it will save the plan that's the whole point. and then he said, as my friends on the other side pointed out, on the other hand i prefer you do it the other way. leaving aside for the moment the argument as if, as to the fact that he probably was referring to "it" as being a plan for mitchell to come forth and take all the blame and there by get the president and his men off the hook. leave that aside. examine his words to determine what they did do and what he did do from march 22nd. did they come forth? did they describe? did they tell all or did they stonewall it? did they cover up or did they do anything to save the plan from march 22nd to this very day they
are doing anything to save the plan including the last day of evidence that was submitted to this committee when mr. sinclair had gone through all the tapes that were still not provided us pursuant to our subpoena and came up with one shred of exculpatory evidence, tapes that the president had heretofore said borno evidence to watergate, one shred evidence that was not exculpaer to at all in examination it dealt with hush money. now the president made a big point of determining what use the defendants would put the money to which he was paying them. to determine its legality or illeg illegality. that isn't the question. the question is for what purpose was it paid not to what purpose it was put. common sense tells you that a president of the united states
does not condone the payment of over $400,000 to seven people occupying a d.c. jail cell because they have committed a burglary unless he wants something from them. that isn't compassion. that isn't a charitable institution, particularly when it's done surreptitiously. it bought their silence. you can't look at this case without feeling a deep sadness, but a deeper anger, a deeper anger that this country was jeopardized to the extent it has been in the past two years and you can't look at the evidence in this case and the totality of what confronts us in this case without understanding that